Friday, January 23, 2015

Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress

President Barack Obama has always held Israel in contempt. At his first White House meeting with the Israeli prime minister, he excused himself for an hour and a half to have dinner. Before that he and his administration had consistently denounced Israeli housing policy. He has made Jeremiah Wright proud.

We might add Obama’s embrace of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and his lobbying against Israel when it was fighting back against Hamas, but, you get the picture.

Most observers believe that Obama is now focused like a laser on negotiating a nuclear arms deal with Iran. Under Obama the Iranians have solidified their hold on Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen. The Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are terrified. Allowing the mullahs to have nuclear weapons seems, if anything, like a great leap into the abyss.

As always, the administration is willing to lie to get its way. In his State of the Union message Obama declared that his deft negotiating strategy had caused Iran to halt the expansion of its nuclear program.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez responded that Obama seemed to be using talking point written in Tehran. 

Stephen Hayes outlined some of the facts:

The United States hasn’t “halted” Iran’s nuclear program. A week before that claim, Iran announced it would build two more reactors. During this diplomacy, it has made progress on its plutonium program and continued enriching. It was supposed to freeze centrifuge activities at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, but the IAEA reported last fall it was feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into the IR-5 centrifuge there.

When anyone disagrees with Obama, he showers them with contempt. He has not limited himself to Israel and its prime minister. 

A decorous president would have congratulated Republicans on their victories in the last election. All previous presidents, both Republicans and Democrats have done so.

Obama did not. He allows his emotions to dictate his behavior.

Given his sense of his own importance he does not feel bound by the rules that define governance. He violates protocol with impunity.

Obama despises Republicans and has done everything he can to circumvent their power. It is not limited to his negotiations with Iran. By issuing executive orders and memoranda, Obama has most recently redefined the relationship with Cuba and declared that he would no longer enforce certain immigration laws. He has said that he will do as he pleases and he has dared the Republican Congress to stop him.

So, Congress, in the person of House speaker Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in early March. And he did so without consulting with the White House, a breach of protocol.

The administration was furious. It declared that the president would not meet with Netanyahu during his trip. And then, to add insult to injury it offered up a lie.

It suggested that the head of the Mossad had told American senators that he was opposed to placing more sanctions on Iran.

The Israeli government reacted vigorously. An Israeli television station reported the story in detail:

A senior Israeli official delivered an uncommonly harsh attack on US PresidentBarack Obama's administration Thursday evening, following the American report that alleged that Mossad Head Tamir Pardo had warned US senators against further Iran sanctions, in contradiction of Israel's official stance.

"The fraudulent claims against the Mossad Head were raised by the Americans yesterday, despite a message that had been transmitted to them on Tuesday by Intelligence Minister [Yuval] Steintz,” the senior Israeli source told Channel 2news.

He added that Israel had gone over the minutes of the meeting between Pardo and the delegation of senators, and that Pardo had not said what was attributed to him.

"Leaking the Mossad Head's statements, even if they had not been falsified, is a serious breach of all the rules,” the senior source added. “Friends do not behave like this. Information from a secret meeting must not leak out.”

Pardo denied on Thursday the report – which was carried by Bloomberg news – claiming that the Mossad disagrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the need to press new sanctions on Iran.

The report said that Mossad officials advised US senators who were visiting Israel recently to hold off on further Iran sanctions, saying that they would hamper, not help, efforts to persuade Iran to give up or allow full international supervision of its nuclear program.

"The Head of Mossad did not say that he opposes additional sanctions on Iran,” said the spy agency Thursday.

"Mossad Head Tamir Pardo met on January 19, 2015, with a delegation of US senators,” Mossad said in a statement. “The meeting was held at the request of the senators and with the prime minister's approval. At the meeting, the Head of Mossad stressed the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions that have been placed on Iran for several years in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.”

"The Head of Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, a policy of 'carrots and sticks' must be adopted, and there are not enough 'sticks' nowadays,” it added.

Furthermore, said the agency, he “said specifically that the agreement that is being formed with Iran is bad and could lead to a regional arms race.”

Obama has already threatened to veto any Congressional bill placing sanctions on Iran. He wants a free hand with Iran and believes that any deal is better than no deal. He will do whatever it takes to stop anyone from interfering.

Caroline Glick describes the situation:

OBAMA’S MESSAGE then is clear. Not only will the diplomatic policy he has adopted not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons (and its ability to attack the US with nuclear warheads attached to an ICBM), but in the event that Iran fails to agree to even cosmetic limitations on its nuclear progress, it will suffer no consequences for its recalcitrance.

For those who believe that Congressional Republicans have been far too accommodating to the Obama administration, Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was a brilliant move. For once the Congress was not going to bend over and take it.

For most Republicans and many Democrats it was an important gesture, one that showed the world that Congress had started to fight back against Obama’s imperial overreach.

And, no one should fail to notice the fact that the Republicans were hitting the Democratic administration where it hurt: with Jewish voters.

Large numbers of Jewish voters voted for Barack Obama. Many Jews supported Obama’s campaign with cash contributions. God only knows what they were thinking, but it is important that they recognize, however belatedly, that the Obama administration is not and has never been a friend of Israel.

Speaking for the administration House minority leader Nancy Pelosi denounced Speaker Boehner for ignoring protocol. The White House explained that it will not meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington.

But, as has been noted, in 2007 Pelosi flew to Damascus to negotiate with President Bashar Assad, even though the Bush administration had asked her not to do so.

As for the White House’s refined sense of protocol, Stephen Hayes explains:

This is the same White House that last week had British prime minister David Cameron making calls to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers against more sanctions on Iran. It’s the same administration that had to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio and others for violating its pledge to “consult Congress” before making any unilateral changes to U.S. policy on Cuba. This is the same president who has boasted repeatedly of his ability and willingness to ignore the legislative branch and use his “pen and phone” to do what he wants. And this is the same administration that used the cover of anonymity to call Netanyahu “chickenshit” in a recent interview.

So far, so good. The lines of political division are clear.

Except that this morning Peggy Noonan, representing the pusillanimous wing of the Republican Party declared that Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was a bad idea.

In so doing Noonan was siding with the Israeli left, represented by the newspaper Haaretz. She quotes the paper, without mentioning its political bias:

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports the idea was “cooked up” behind the back of the American president, that the White House, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Israel “were totally excluded from these contacts,” that they had been neither consulted nor informed before the invitation was issued by the Republican leadership. (Haaretz also noted that Mr. Netanyahu faces an election in two months.)

Noonan continued:

Mr. Netanyahu is welcome to visit and speak to Americans anytime he wants, but Congress’s invitation… is a violation of diplomatic form, tradition and expectation. The United States has an elected president who serves a four-year term, and in that time he gets to conduct the nation’s formal diplomatic efforts and policy and to oversee its foreign-affairs apparatus and agencies.

Does Mr. Obama deserve to be embarrassed in this way? Of course he does! In his long years in the presidency he has demonstrated no regard for the Republicans of Congress, and now they are showing no regard for him.

A violation of diplomatic form… Tsk. Tsk. When has Obama respected formality and respected the voice of the people as expressed by the American Congress?

Diplomatic form for me and not for thee … is a recipe for defeat.

It’s good to say that Republicans should turn the other cheek, but eventually you run out of cheeks.

Noonan called it “a damaging snub.” She is worried about divisions between Congress and the president… ignoring the fact that sowing division has been the Obama strategy from the beginning.

In her words:

But it is still a bad move, a damaging snub that makes divisions more dramatic, and not only between Congress and the president. Mr. Obama is forced to decide whether to invite Mr. Netanyahu to visit the White House while he is in Washington. The White House announced it will not, pointedly attributing the decision to “the proximity to the Israeli election.” This too is a snub, and it is hard to see how it does anything to fortify U.S.-Israeli relations.

Of course, if Iran gets the bomb and develops missiles that can easily reach Tel Aviv, wouldn’t that be worse than a damaging snub?

And, what did Noonan think of the repeated Congressional efforts, led by Democrats, to defund the Iraq war? Was it a breach of protocol or a damaging snub?When Republicans were in the White House Congressional Democrats had no compunction about undermining a war.

Noonan concluded:

Congress has the authority to do what it’s doing, but is it the responsible thing? Congress and the White House are supposed to work together on foreign affairs, as a matter not only of politesse but practicality. If this scenario becomes the norm—an angry Congress embarrassing or putting in a poor position a sitting American president—it would make America look to the world more torn and divided, more at the mercy of forces, more incapable and of course dysfunctional. Would that enhance America’s position or damage it?

Sad to say, Peggy Noonan has embarrassed herself here. She has shown that Obama was right in one thing: some Republicans insist on bringing a knife to a gun fight.

1 comment:

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I don't think Peggy Noonan embarrassed herself here. She's totally correct. It is a breach of protocol, and it does make things worse in terms of our global standing and that we're not acting as a nation, with one voice, about the most dangerous nation in the world: Iran. The fact that the person speaking is the Israeli Prime Minister makes it a soft landing. The Republicans needed to make a move against Obama. I just wish they'd have chose a different dimension for counterattack. Iran is a serious menace in just about every foreign policy consideration.

With all that said, I hope we see the heart of the story: no one trusts Obama. This is what happens when a political actor behaves like a petulant child. Obama brought this on himself because he is rude, caustic, dishonest and remarkably thin-skinned. He is not a sympathetic figure here, and nobody listens to Pelosi anymore anyway. This "snub" is totally self-inflicted, yet we know Obama and his chatterers will make him into a victim. Life is do unfair for Obama. Boo-hoo.

I'm not looking forward to two years of a narcissistic, antisocial, entitled lame duck president who says he's going "on offense." Doesn't sound like someone who has the good of the country in the forefront of his mind.